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Ronnie Drew: The Old Man's Tale


Ronnie Drew: The Old Man's Tale

At the turning of the century I was a boy of five
Me father went to fight the Boers and never came back alive
Me mother was left to bring us up, no charity she'd seek
So she washed and scrubbed and scrapped along on seven and six a week

When I was twelve I left the school and went to find a job
I took the royal shilling and went off to do my bit
I lived on mud and tears and blood, three years or thereabouts
Then I copped some gas in flanders and got invalided out

Well when the war was over and we'd settled with the Hun
We got back into civvies and we thought the fighting done
We'd won the right to live in peace but we didn't have such luck
For we found we had to fight for the right to go to work

In '26 the General Strike found me out in the streets
Although I'd a wife and kids by then and their needs I had to meet
For a brave new world was coming and I taught them wrong from right
But Hitler was the lad who came and taught them how to fight

My daughter was a landgirl, she got married to a Yank
And they gave my son a gong for stopping one of Rommel's tanks
He was wounded just before the end and he convalesced in Rome
He married an Eyetie nurse and never bothered to come home

My daughter writes me once a month, a cheerful little note
About their colour telly and the other things they've got
She's got a son, a likely lad; he's nearly twenty-one
And she tells me now they've called him up to fight in Vietnam

We're living on the pension now, it doesn't go too far
Not much to show for a life that seems like one long bloody war
When you think of all the wasted lives it makes you want to cry
I'm not sure how to change things, but by Christ we'll have to try